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Q: Connecting my computer to my stereo: in wall wiring question ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Connecting my computer to my stereo: in wall wiring question
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: rillette-ga
List Price: $55.00
Posted: 23 Jan 2005 10:20 PST
Expires: 22 Feb 2005 10:20 PST
Question ID: 462006
I am wiring several sets of speakers in my house (through existing
walls.) I want to connect my mac to my stereo as a source. Mac &
stereo are about 15 feet apart separated by two walls; I want to
connect them via physical wires not wireless (I'm using wireless now
and it drops out on occasion.)

minijack (headphone) out of the computer. rca inputs into stereo (I'll
likely use the tape-2 ports.)

I have the guys at the house tomorrow doing the work. Several questions;
1) What type of cable should I use? Would speaker cable work?
2) I'm having trouble finding RCA jack wall outlets. I'm finding
speaker-type wall outlets that take a bananna plug. Will these work?

Basically, the goal is to run a wire(s) from my kitchen to my stereo
through the walls. I'd like wall jacks at both ends. From these jacks,
I'd like to connect one end to the headphone jack on my computer. On
the other end, I'd like to connect to two rca-jacks which represent
"tape-2" on my stereo.

Stereo will drive 3 sets of remote speakers in the house.

I'm hoping for an answer today or tomorrow. 
Subject: Re: Connecting my computer to my stereo: in wall wiring question
Answered By: chromedome-ga on 24 Jan 2005 07:00 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi, Rillette!

I spent a lot of years selling consumer electronics, so I've been down
this road a time or two.  I have the pieces at home to do just this,
but never used them because I sold my house and went back to renting.

The first piece you need is a cable to go from the 1/8" mini stereo
("headphone/speaker") jack on your Mac to the RCA connections you'll
be using the rest of the way.  These are widely available.  Below, you
will find a link to the version from Monster Cable, on the Radio Shack
website (I'm assuming you are in the US, and therefore have easy
access to Radio Shack).

Monster Cable, of course, is a high-end audiophile product.  They also
offer a lightweight house brand version of the cable, shown at this

A wall plate with RCA connectors is available at this link:

This particular plate has three connectors on it, allowing for video
use as well as audio use.  While that is no part of your current
project, it's not a bad notion for future use.

Bear in mind that your installers should be able to source wall plates
through their own suppliers, so you may want to discuss this with

As for the wire running through your walls, you have a couple of
choices.  Speaker wire will work, though for continuous runs of over
20-25 ft you will want to use a heavy gauge of wire; I'd say nothing
less than 14ga. with 12ga. being preferable.  This is a bit on the
pricy side, but it reduces signal loss.  Another option would be to
use coaxial (ie shielded) cable, similar to your television cable in
design.  This is the style used in higher-end audio cables.

Here, budget will be the deciding factor; you'll have to settle in
your mind how much you're willing to pay for this installation and
then price out your wiring options accordingly with the installers.

There is no particular reason why you could not use wall plates with
binding posts ("banana plugs") instead, since the end result is the
same.  However, it would require adding RCA=>banana plug adaptors to
the y-cable coming from your computer and again, at the other end,
when you connect back to your stereo.  Since each connection will
degrade your signal to a degree, this is undesirable in the overall
scheme of things.

Search strategy:

As you've undoubtedly guessed, this answer was constructed from
personal knowledge.  I chose Radio Shack's website as the place to
source these items simply because of their ubiquity; if you need
something in a hurry there's not much point supplying your with online
ordering options.  The Shack, on the other hand, is everywhere, and
these products should be in stock (the Monster Cable might be special
order for smaller stores, so phone first).

I should add that your username gave me a welcome chuckle to start my
day (I'm a cook by trade).  Thanks for that!

I'm off to work now for the day, but if you should require any further
information please let me know by way of the "request clarification"
button, and I'll amplify on this (pardon the pun) as needed.


Request for Answer Clarification by rillette-ga on 24 Jan 2005 07:49 PST
Thanks for your excellent response (and extra credit for even knowing
what rillette is! I'd made it the day I picked a user name!)

The 12-ga wire info was the key piece of info I was lacking. RCA jacks
at Radioshack is perfect; I've been to three stores (including Fry's)
looking for something like it and was losing hope.

Can you clarify the coax cable bit? I'm not sure I understand that.

To reiterate, parts in order from my computer to the stereo are;
* minijack to rca "y" cable splitter (got one)
* RCA outlet jack from Radioshack (at computer)
* 12-ga cable running from kitchen outlet to stereo outlet
* RCA outlet jack from radio shack (at stereo)
* RCA patch cables from jack to stereo

I'll likely have them wire the video link as well. Not sure how I'll
use it, but one never knows I suppose. Better not to be faced with
that conundrum after everyone has left me all alone with my
electronics to sort it out on my own. Any opinions here?


Clarification of Answer by chromedome-ga on 24 Jan 2005 16:54 PST
Hello again...

Re: "coax" cable.  Coaxial cable is a two-conductor cable, just as
speaker wire is.  The difference is that, instead of running parallel
to each other, they share a common axis (hence the name).  To put it
more simply, instead of being side by side, one wire runs inside the
other.  Your centre wire, whether single-strand or braided, runs
through a layer of insulation.  This is wrapped with a layer of
braided wire which forms a sheath.  That sheath not only provides your
second connection, it also shields the wire in the middle.  That
shielding is why coaxial cable is used for cable television; it
prevents the signal from being corrupted by interference.

Audio cables are typically made from a lightweight coax cable; while
high-end cables like Monster Cable are made from a heavier coax (the
centre wire is of heavier gauge, just as with speaker wire), and will
typically be made of high-purity copper with better-than-average

To summarize: heavy-gauge speaker wire reduces your signal loss over
distance.  Coax, in a heavy gauge/high quality cable, does the same
but also shields your signal from interference.  Personally, since you
are just going through a couple of walls, I think that the speaker
wire should be just fine (though if you live near a radio station
you'll regret it!).  If in future you should be pre-wiring a whole
house, you might want to go the extra mile and have coax put in.

Thanks for the gaudy pile o' stars...

rillette-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
perfect. Exactly what I needed; timely and actionable. Walked right
out the door to Radioshack, bought what I needed, and handed it to my

Subject: Re: Connecting my computer to my stereo: in wall wiring question
From: guzzi-ga on 23 Jan 2005 17:02 PST
Hi rillette. If no researcher answers this, I or another will comment
tomorrow. Unfair to potentially deprive a researcher of $55 so ?we?
are holding back, but your post has been noticed :-)

Subject: Re: Connecting my computer to my stereo: in wall wiring question
From: rillette-ga on 23 Jan 2005 18:25 PST
Thanks Guzzi. I fully understand and appreciate your thoughtfulness of
the researchers. Unfortunately, I'm really under the gun to figure
this out. Anything you can do to help as soon as you feel comfortable,
I'll appreciate tons.

Subject: Re: Connecting my computer to my stereo: in wall wiring question
From: chromedome-ga on 24 Jan 2005 17:01 PST
...Oh, and Guzzi...thank you for your restraint.  Molte grazie.

A perennial frustration for researchers is to find shiny new questions
answered in comments as soon as they arrive on the board.  For those
who depend on GA income more than I do, it gets downright painful!

Subject: Re: Connecting my computer to my stereo: in wall wiring question
From: guzzi-ga on 24 Jan 2005 17:36 PST
Hi rillette, see I did look. But chromedome did you proud so saved me
at least a half an hour?s writing -- and he / she was suitably
rewarded :-)


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